At Zero Waste Hero, we’re super passionate about minimalism, low-impact living, and environmental. However, that’s not all – we also want to make a mark around helping everyone just live better, happier lives (which often goes hand-in-hand with the transition towards a natural, zero waste lifestyle). As a part of this mission, we want to focus on a topic that is talked about more these days but still not nearly enough: mental health. Mental health is a challenge that many of us face but is difficult to discuss with those even closest to us.
COVID hasn’t been any help either. Since the pandemic, the number of Canadians facing mental issues has exponentially risen, only worsening the crisis. As just a topline figure, the number of Canadians at a high mental health risk (facing debilitating stress, depression, and suicidal / self-harm thoughts) has risen to 50% in 2021.
With that in mind, we’re going to provide our take on how to support your mental health through a series of simple daily lifestyle choices. This is by no means professional advice. However, we hope that sharing our experience with mental health can be a small step towards getting the conversation further rolling and giving you some great ideas.
Get some exercise
You might have already heard this, but exercise is really the key to both physical and mental well-being, and this is all backed by hard science. For example, a Harvard study found that a 15-minute run or an hour-long walk reduces the risk of major depression by 26% and helps avoid relapsing.
Next time you feel down, get up and move it. Exercise helps us remove ourselves from the immediate day-to-day, get sunlight, and get better sleep!
Be mindful of what you eat
Aside from getting in some movement, what you eat is just as important. Food is more than just replenishment; it’s the fuel your body uses day after day.
Sugar and processed foods can lead to brain inflammation which contributes to poor mental health and mood. This isn’t just a one-sided relationship either, as we also tend to reach for these unhealthy options during those stressful days, leading to a vicious feedback cycle.
If you’re ready to take a serious step towards improving mental health, consider what you’re putting on a plate next time. Research also shows that fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and foods rich in omega-3 are excellent brain foods that can make you think and feel better.
Hit that snooze button
Exercise, diet, and … sleep! That’s the trinity of well-being. Cheesy lines aside though, sleep is closely connected to mood. If you’re getting poor or too little sleep, it can lead to irritability, stress, and negative thoughts.
Our recommendation is to get the right amount of sleep for you, and that doesn’t necessarily mean 8 hours. On average, a person can need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep (and sometimes that figure can be less or more) – finding that balance only comes with time and experimentation. Another helpful tip around getting good sleep includes maintaining a routine around your sleep and wake-up times.
Protect your time
Believe it or not, relaxation is just as important as being productive. Being brave enough to disconnect and make time for yourself to unwind, whatever that might look like, helps not only stay productive over the long run but also reduces stress / improves mental well-being.
The world can be rushed and demanding. However, when you finally get some time to yourself on a vacation, weekend, or even just after work, make sure to protect it no matter what – you and your mental health deserve it.
Stay in touch
Now, next time you’re thinking about how to spend that free time, consider giving a loved one a visit. Whether it’s family or friends, keeping in touch with our support group helps us stay in a better mental space and opens up opportunities to talk through some of those stressful, negative experiences.
Of course, nothing beats face-to-face communication. However, if that isn’t possible because of COVID or any other reasons, a call or message can be helpful too!
Seek resources and help
The final advice here is to seek professional help when you need it. We know it can be scary - however, this is probably the most important step towards dealing with serious mental health problems. Not to mention, getting therapy is just a part of regular life – just in 2019, nearly 1 out 5 Americans received mental health treatment.
Even if you don’t need therapy per say, the world is becoming full of digital mental health support options. For example, a few of our favourite apps include:
- Smiling Mind: a non-for-profit meditation program developed by psychologists and educators to help bring mindfulness into your life
- MindShift: a free app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety
- Reflectly: a journal that utilizes AI to help you structure and reflect upon daily thoughts and problems
About Zero Waste Hero
Hey again! Welcome to Zero Waste Hero. If you’re not familiar with us, we’re a Canadian-owned one-stop shop for sustainable and ethically sourced home and beauty products. Our mission is to make the transition to minimal impact living as easy as possible. Naturally, a big part of this involves educating our consumers, so we’ve begun regularly posting blogs aimed at covering the latest news in the world of sustainability, sharing eco-friendly lifestyle ideas, and so much more.
If you enjoyed this read, sign up for the newsletter and keep an eye out, as we’ll continue to regularly release other informative pieces like this. Also, make sure to follow us on social media and visit zerowastehero.ca for a collection of the best eco-friendly products out there!